Computer programs release updates regularly, sometimes in a quarterly basis, though there are also others that update their software every year. But for others, instead of simply releasing an update of a current software, they would instead release an entirely new version of the software, which contains a lot of bug fixes, enhancements, and new features. Some of these software may be well-received when the new version comes out, while some may also be criticized for some reason, and this is why there is a constant change in the list of the best programs year after year.
The same thing can be said with illustration tools, wherein graphic artists and illustrators would look for those software which are user-friendly, yet capable of handling complex tasks and graphic illustrations. Listed below are 8 of the best new illustration tools in 2017, and by new, we don’t entirely mean that it’s a new release, it could also mean new updates that were released this year. Feel free to check out the list below.
Adobe Photoshop CC 2018
Adobe Photoshop is a graphics editor both developed and published by Adobe Systems that deals with raster images. The first version of Photoshop was released in 1990, and 27 years later, it has become one of the top-selling graphics editor in the market. The most recent version – Photoshop CC 2018 – was released just recently this month, and is compatible on both Windows and Mac computers.
New Features of Adobe Photoshop CC 2018
- Stroke Smoothing. For the brush, pencil, mixer brush, and the eraser tool, Photoshop now added an intelligent smoothing feature which can be enabled in the Options bar. Under this feature are several modes to assist you in achieving smooth edges when making brush strokes: Pulled String Mode, Stroke Catch Up Mode, Catch-Up On Stroke End Mode, and Adjust For Zoom Mode.
- Streamlined Brush Management. Now, you may be able to organize your brushes by pre-setting each of them according to its opacity, flow, blending mode, and hardness.
- Accessibility of Lightroom Photos. You can now import and access all of you photos from Lightroom that you have synchronized on Adobe’s Creative Cloud.
- Variable Fonts. Adjusting the font attributes such as the weight, width, slant, etc. can be done very easily now. With the new Variable Font support, you can now adjust these attributes using the slider controls in the Properties panel.
- Easy Sharing. Photoshop now has its own sharing and emailing service that allows users to send their flat illustrations easily and directly from within the software.
- Curvature Pen Tool. Another new tool added to this release is the Curvature Pen, which allows you to draw smooth curves and straight line segments with ease.
- Path Options. The new Photoshop now allows you to define the color and thickness of path lines depending on your preferences, which is also very useful for easier visibility.
- Copying and Pasting Layers. You can now copy and paste layers either within or between different documents.
- Editing of Spherical Panoramas. When dealing with equirectangular spherical panoramic images, you can now edit them by rotating the view, adjusting the FOV, and applying tools and filters.
Adobe Illustrator CC 2018
Now that we have just mentioned about the raster graphics editor from Adobe, we will now move on to their vector graphics editor, which is Adobe Illustrator. The first version of Illustrator came out three years earlier than Photoshop, and its most recent one – Illustrator CC 2018 – came out just this month together with the latest from Photoshop.
New Features of Adobe Illustrator CC 2018
- Properties Panel. Illustrator‘s new Properties panel now allows users to view the settings and controls in the context of your current workflow. This new features ensures that you will have easy access to the controls that you need when you need them.
- Puppet Warp Tool. This new tool allows you to freely twist and distort specific parts of a vector illustration, in such a way that these distortions look natural and realistic. You can do this by adding pins on the image, and simply move or rotate these pins to warp your image into different positions.
- Variable Fonts. Just like Photoshop, Illustrator now supports Variable Fonts as well, which allows users to customize font attributes using slider controls.
- OpenType SVG Support. Illustrator now supports OpenType SVG fonts which provide various colors and gradients in one symbol.
- Adding and Sharing Text Assets. With Adobe’s Creative Cloud feature, you may now add text objects from your Illustrator documents to the Creative Cloud library for easy sharing across multiple users.
CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017
CorelDRAW, one of the most notable alternative editing tools to Adobe’s Photoshop and Illustrator, comes the most recent version of their widely used software, CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017. This is a vector graphics editing tool developed by Corel Corporation, and was released for Microsoft Windows computers on April 11, 2017. With CorelDRAW, their primary file format used is the CDR, though they also use other file formats which include the CDX, CDT, and the CMX.
New Features of CorelDRAW Graphics Suite 2017
- LiveSketch Tool. Save time by directly sketching using the software instead of having to do it on paper and tracing it afterwards. This innovative tool smartly adjusts your strokes and combines them with pre-existing vector curves.
- Enhanced Node Editing. Now, identifying different node types has become easier since each of them has been assigned a particular shape. The vector previews for nodes have also been enhanced to become more visible over the background colors in your design.
- Advanced Stylus Support. For those working on touchscreen devices and using a stylus, you can now enjoy a more natural drawing experience with CorelDRAW‘s enhanced and advanced stylus support. Now, you can control various tools and effects by simply adjusting the pressure, tilt, and rotation of your stylus.
ArtRage 5 is the most recent release from the company that wants every artist to express themselves using natural painting tools and powerful utilities, regardless if they are experienced or not. ArtRage works on both macOS and Windows computers, and has everything from realistic paint textures and colors, to convenient digital editing tools.
ArtRage 5 Features
- Realistic Painting and Drawing Tools. The feature that made ArtRage popular is their ability to produce results that look like genuine paintings. And you won’t have to worry when making them because the tools that are being offered resemble the real thing as well.
- Utilities and Aids. For the benefit of beginners, ArtRage provides many helpful features to assist you.
- Intuitive Interface. You can now choose between the Classic mode and the Docking mode. The Classic mode make the tools easily accessible for you and collapses as you draw. The Docking mode allows for a fully customizable interface with floating panels.
We have previously mentioned about ArtRage in a separate article that listed down some of the best graphic design tools. If you are interested to read about that, feel free to check out our list of the top ten graphic design apps and tools for designers.
Inkscape may be what you need. Inkscape is a free and open-source vector graphics editor used for creating or editing illustrations, diagrams, logos, and other files that use vectors for elements.
- Object Creation. You can create various objects and shapes with Inkscape‘s pen/pencil tool, and shape tools. You can also create stunning text with their calligraphy tool, and multi-line and full on-canvas text tool.
- Object Manipulation. Make interactive transformations to your drawings easily. You can also group objects depending on how you like, and you can work in multiple layers.
- Operation on Paths. You may be able to edit nodes by either moving, aligning, or distributing them. You may also be able to make Boolean operations.
- File Formats. Inkscape is fully compliant with the SVG format for both file generation and editing. This software is also compatible with the PNG, PDF, EPS, DXF, and OpenDocument Drawing file formats.
If you are looking for more designer tools that you can download at no cost, you may refer to our list of some of the best free-to-download software for graphic designers.
Autodesk SketchBook Pro
Autodesk, the software company that developed one of the most-used CAD software, AutoCAD (also their flagship software), also brings you Sketchbook Pro, which is a pixel graphics editing software. Sketchbook Pro, or simply Sketchbook, is developed for the intention of making expressing drawings and concept sketches. This earlier versions of this software was developed by Alias Systems Corporation, before the rights were purchased by Autodesk.
Autodesk SketchBook Pro Features
- With Sketchbook‘s minimalistic but intuitive interface, the software allows for you to have a natural drawing experience.
- Sketchbook has over 140 standard brushes, but also allows you to create your own, and even import some that were created by professional artists.
- You may be able to add an unlimited number of layers to your drawing, and apply blending modes and groupings to those layers.
- Sketchbook now uses a predictive stroke for a smooth line work and also to correct basic shapes.
- You may be able to use fully adjustable rulers, French curves, and ellipse guide for a more precise drawing.
- You can now easily distort or transform you illustrations for fixing proportions and perspectives.
Whether you are working on vector logos or vector icons, you may also want to try out Affinity Designer. This is a vector graphics editing software developed initially for the macOS, though it eventually found its way to Microsoft Windows in 2016. This software has been considered one of the fastest and smoothest vector graphics editor, regardless of what time of design you are working on.
Affinity Designer Features
- You can apply gradients, effects, blend modes, and adjustments in real-time.
- Affinity Designer guarantees speed and precision whatever size or complexity of the design you are working on.
- Interface is stylish, organized, and also fully customizable. You may even be able to create your own toolbars and layouts, rearrange panels and set them as floating or docked.
- You can zoom in beyond 1,000,000% quickly and smoothly.
- Affinity Designer is virtually easy to learn and use with the help of the Hint Line and the Context toolbar to assist you in your current actions.
- You may be able to work with multiple designs and multiple displays.
- You can easily switch between vector, pixel, and export working modes.
- Affinity Designer can also protect you and your files from unexpected shutdowns with its seamless AutoSaving feature.
Here is another propriety software for macOS computers, just like Affinity Designer, but unlike the previous software, this has not yet been released for Windows computers up to this day and has since been a macOS exclusive. Sketch is an award-winning vector graphics editing software developed by Bohemian Coding for Apple’s macOS, which was first released in 2010. So, if you are using a Mac computer for creating or editing your vector textures or vector palettes, you may want to give this software a try.
Enhancements in the latest version
- Libraries. The most recent version of Sketch introduces users to its libraries, which allows for sharing Symbols between documents and other graphic designers.
- Smooth Corners. Users may now be able to adjust the curves on the rectangle’s corners as well as its radius.
- Improved Performance. Improvements in performance have been made when working with shadows in complex documents, and when editing nested Symbols.